Tag Archives: nature photography

The Garden Spider

by Laura Parker Roerden

Every single evening
in her short life
the garden spider spins

a web of concentric
circles. Each anchored
to five

or so holdfasts,

simple spokes
on a wheel,
against which everything hinges.

Around and around she goes,
adding to her work,

bridging the distance from
one holdfast

to another, length by length,

adding depth
and perspective as she telescopes inward,

moving deftly to a center only
the edges can project, filling
in a spiral with detail.

Her strange and perfect offering
completes itself in zigs and zags like a zipper
on a fine golden purse to safely carry expected coin.

By morning the light and dew
create a hall of mirrors,
drawing her prey down

now lit corridors,
the mirage of open
space an enticement to beyond,

but instead a dead end.

A goldfinch flies over the garden
on his way to a field where evening
primrose offers buttercups of nectar

and darts past the spider,
her work a magnificent lit
lamp tilted just so

he can avoid ruining her elaborate
composition. By evening, the spider
dines on her work, now studded

with the jewels of beatles
and papery moths, lying still
in silky sarcophagi.

The spider unwinds
her entire web, ingesting it within

in a feat of impressive completion,

only to begin
again spinning
come dark.

The Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia or “with a bright face” in Latin) goes by several other common names including the writing spider, corn spider, or McKinley spider. They are found in all 48 contiguous states usually in gardens or at the edges of open fields. We commonly see Garden Spiders on squash or tomato plants in the farm’s vegetable garden that abuts a hayfield.

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women.

 

The Quest

by Laura Parker Roerden

Photo © Brian Skerry. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

You can find just about anything you could dream
in an ocean. Tiny horses holding on by prehensile tails
to flat vines that float upwards and shimmer in sunlight like cities.

Red squid that fly with vampire wings and shoot out light orbs
to stun predator or prey. A flat ray with a saw. It won’t surprise you
at all then to learn of a swimming unicorn whale: the narwhal.

Swords drawn, several narwhales move as one. It’s impossible
to know what they seek, but something in their quickening suggests
a quest, as strips of Arctic ice fall away around them like sunburnt

skin shedding. They move in now open ocean. There’s no place
to hide from killer whales; no escape from our hand. If we follow them
we’d see: that everywhere we suffer from wounds that need healing.

The Fisher King himself, we are told, guards a holy grail
in a vast wasteland of destruction; where seas now rise. Is it any wonder why
the narwhals are headed there? Or perhaps they have already arrived?

And what will they discover once their journey is complete? Are they trying
to show us that we should come too? For surely their quest is our own:
for a home where towers of ice do not tumble down around us;

where we heed a wild call for full hearts and heroes to wake.

© Laura Parker Roerden. All rights reserved.

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth,

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About the Photo by Brian Skerry
Sea ice and ice floe edge around Navy Board Inlet, Baffin Island in the high arctic of Canada. At this time of year (June) the ice begins to break up and wildlife become more plentiful with animals such as seals, narwhals, bowhead whales and polar bears feeding in the rich waters. Climate change is having an effect on this region, with ice melting earlier during many recent years. (Pristine Seas expedition team working/filming documentary)

The Leatherback Turtle

by Laura Parker Roerden

Photography © Brian Skerry 2017. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 

She asked not why leaving the water should call her,
even as she dragged herself onto the beach, a soldier,
crawling as her body thickened, while she sunk more
deeply into the sand than peace, softness rising to accommodate.

A sigh above her carried a mist along the beach, as befitting
a cloak or ritual. The moon was low in the sky, scattering ancient light
like dust. She turned now a sundial before settling at once and sifting
grains of sand and dew with her rear flippers toward a coming dawn.

She has left in her wake a grave-like hole, a bridge between worlds opening
as if Mercury himself were present; the tear-drop shape
of her nest an homage to watery renewal. She bears down to release
what was once hidden; a trail of potential spills forth. Tiny

opalescent moons soon, too, will be covered in darkness.
She asks nothing of her nest. Not a trace appears to be left of her heart’s
work, except to see itself as complete, as she makes her return
to the sea: a daughter now of a primordial promise.

The Leatherback Turtle © Laura Parker Roerden 2017. All rights reserved.

About the Photo by Brian Skerry, winner of 1st place, Wildlife Photograph of the Year, 2017, Behavior: Amphibians and Reptiles Category. 

Leatherback Turtles nesting and hatching at Sandy Point on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Sandy Point is a US Fish & Wildlife reserve that has some level of protection for wildlife. But the waters off this beach remain largely unprotected. Several species of sea turtles frequent these waters and nest on these beaches. All species of sea turtles are endangered, with leatherbacks being among the most endangered. Female leatherbacks return to beaches near where they hatched. Their eggs typically hatch approximately 60 days later, with often between 25-50 hatchlings emerging. They quickly crawl to the sea and begin a lifetime of perpetual swimming.

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women in Sustainability. She lives on her fifth generation family farm in MA.

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